So the car’s packed, Spotify playlist is at the ready and your alarm is set for the crack of dawn. You think you’re prepared for the trek to the slopes, but let me tell you, if you don’t know where you’re stopping along the way, you could become a victim to deserted towns, decrepit sandwiches and watered down coffee that is giving you about as much of a caffeine hit as an 3/4 soy decaf latte.
Sydney might be an inconvenient seven hours away from the closest snow field, but unless you own a private jet and refuse the bus ride for the sake of waking up to a stranger snoring on your shoulder then, my friend, it looks like driving is your only option.
The good news is, the drive from Sydney to Jindabyne doesn’t have to be a tedious one. To help you prepare for an epic road trip to the snow, we’ve put together a list of all the places to see, stop and visit along the way to make the journey south nothing short of memorable.
#1 Grab Your Squad
Choose your passengers wisely. The journey is long. Anyone who insists on playing Aussie hip-hop the whole way can be let out before you even leave the outskirts of Sydney.
#2 Know Your Pit Stops
I’m saving you that agonising anticipation of rest stop signs for the times when you need to go.
- Where the M5 meets the M7, this is the last stop for an hour and a half.
- Lake George
- Monaro Hwy (just outside of Cooma)
#3 But First, Coffee
I wasn’t kidding about watered down coffee, it’s actually a thing as soon as you hit the Hume Highway- like, do these people even know what coffee beans are? You’ll need a real caffeine hit that’s going to keep you wide eyed the whole trip. None of that filtered business.
- Red Tree Café—It’s in Bowral, which means a slight detour, but if you’re on the road early enough it’s worth the trip for a breakfast of baked goods, eggs and, of course, coffee.
- Grandma’s at the Farm—A little further down the road (two and a half hours from Sydney if you can hold out that long), there's a little country style bakery offering good coffee, farm fresh produce as well as sweet and savoury home-baked goods.
- The Lott—Okay, so it’s in Cooma which is basically your half way point, but The Lott makes seriously great coffee. The rustic woodshed café creates healthy dishes from local and fresh produce so you can dine in and listen to good tunes while you replenish.
- Kettle & Seed—Also in Cooma, this café boasts good brews and, if you’re a sucker for cookies, then this is the place.
#4 Visit A Vineyard
Don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not suggesting you stop off on a tasting tour. This is the perfect place to stock up on all that cheese and wine you’re going to need when sitting in front of the fire at your Snowy Mountain accommodation. You could even use the opportunity to get a good feed while surrounded by scenic views.
- Lake George Winery—Two and half hours from Sydney, this boutique winery is the perfect place to stop for lunch if time permits. If you’re just passing through it’s worth stretching your legs and grabbing some Insta-worthy shots before stocking up on their award winning Chardonnay.
- Lerida Estate—If you love a medium bodied red, then Lerida Estate—one of the best producers of Pinot Noir in New South Wales—should be mapped out for your journey. During the winter months (AKA truffle season), the café is offering a menu dedicated to truffles including truffle popcorn, truffle bread, truffle cheese, truffle salami even truffled eggs are on the breakfast menu. Need I say more?
#5 Take A Detour Through Australia’s Capital
While we are on the topic of truffles, if the mushroom kind aren’t really your bag, then Bruno’s truffles in Canberra is a good alternative. With every kind of chocolate truffle you can imagine, you can either stop in here for a coffee and a bite to eat or grab packaged desserts to take with you for your stay at the snow. There’s also a bakery here offering their famous sausage rolls, European bread, savouries and sweets so Bruno’s might be the only reason you visit the ACT, but at least it’s a good one!
#6 Embrace The Novelties
An epic road trip is only as good as the story it can tell. This means embracing those odd stops along the way. Pancakes may not seem like the typical road trip fare, but when passing through Bredbo, the Pancake and Crepe Café shouldn’t be missed whether it be breakfast, lunch or brunch. With hotcakes, dessert crepes and savory fillings like Mexican chicken or beef curry, it’s safe to say a good tale is sure to come of ‘that time you stopped to get pancakes on your way to the snow’.
#7 Eat A Pie
A road trip wouldn’t be a road trip without stopping at ‘the best pie shop in Australia’. By whose accord, I have no idea with almost every pie shop claiming they are the best. But seriously, if it really is good pies you’re after I’d suggest saving yourself for Cooma. Kuma Pies and Pastries could end up being the highlight of your trip. The only downfall is forgetting to save room for the vanilla slice. Aaaah #firstworldproblems.
#8 Don’t Forget Your Hire Gear
Of course, if you’re planning a few days on the slopes, then you’re going to need your gear and for those of us who don’t own a 4WD, chains are a must.
For convenience, Rhythm Snow Sports in Cooma is one of the largest snow sport stores in Australia and is open 24 hours a day so it’s perfect for those travelling through late at night. They have a snowboard and ski shop for purchasing goods and hiring them as well as a fashion and retail section. You can also hire chains and refuel here, so it’s basically a one stop shop.
#9 Order A Pizza
Yes, it might seem a little strange to be ordering take away pizza on a road trip, but believe me, once you go a margherita from the comfort of your own car, you won’t go back. This revolutionary drive by snack is so good that there’s actually more than one place offering pick-up pizzas on your way to or from the snow fields.
- Alpine Larder—only 30 minutes from Jindabyne, they offer gourmet wood-fired pizzas (among other things) and give a whole new meaning to phrase ‘comfort food’. They have all the usual pizza toppings as well as a few alpine specials, appropriately named to suit the surrounds.
- Bredbo Pizzeria—Great for wood-fired pizzas and calzones. Stop in here either on the way to (depending on your arrival time), or from a day on the mountains. You can call ahead have dinner waiting for you when you arrive so it doesn’t interfere with your PB travel time.
#10 Get A Two For One Deal
Okay, so you’ve finally made it Jindabyne and your playlist is on its last legs with Bohemian Rhapsody now on repeat. It’s time to prepare yourself to get up the mountain for a day of shredding, but don’t get caught out sitting in traffic at the roundabout (there’s only one on the way to both Thredbo and Perisher and you’ll know what I am talking about when you get there) without a coffee or something in your belly to give your energy for a day of boarding.
- Coffee Beats Drinks is in Jindabyne and should be your last pit-stop before you hit the slopes. As the name suggests, they serve coffee, play good beats and, if you don’t make it in the morning, they’re also open of an evening serving drinks so you can wind down after a long day of riding. And, if you’re after a two-for-one deal, you can even get your board waxed while your coffee brews and your bagel toasts. Now that’s efficiency.
Looking for more travel inspo? Check out our guide to Spain.
Image credit: Gary Parker